Today is my Name Day. A Name Day is a day in which we commemorate a person who has lived their life for Christ – a saint. We look to the saints for strength because they are examples to us of ways we can also live our life for Christ.
Typically a person’s Name Day is celebrated when commemorating a saint who has the same name as yourself. My parents asked a priest many years ago who my saint would be and he told them – Saint Zenobia. Roughly translated, her name would be Jane or Jenny in English. Other saints for Jennifer or Jenny would be:
- Saint Evgenia (Eugenia) on December 24 – a common nickname is Jenny
- Saint Guinevere on January 3 – translates to Jennifer
Les and I like to read the story of each family member’s saint on their Name Day. Then we talk about ways we can emulate the life of our saint in our lives today.
Here is a description of Saint Zenobia from the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese:
These Saints were from Aegae in Cilicia, brought up in piety by their parents. Zenobius was a physician, and healed many freely by the power of God; because of his virtue he was consecrated Bishop of Aegae. With his sister he was taken by Lysias the Governor, and after many tortures they were beheaded, about the year 290, during the reign of Diocletian.
I’ve read in other places that Zenobia helped her brother care for the sick and poor. What are ways in my own life I can emulate Saint Zenobia? I can babysit free of charge for those who need someone to watch their kids but don’t have money to pay a babysitter. I can help take care of a sick or dying family member or friend. I can bring food to a shut-in and keep them company for the afternoon.
Celebrating a Name Day has nothing to do with worshiping someone. It has everything to do with following the example of others who have lived their lives for God and incorporating those examples into our everyday lives. I think it’s important to share these examples with our children and teach them about these saints. Icons are one way of having a constant reminder in our home of these exceptional examples.